Carrie Meyer soaked up anything historical when she was a kid, whether it was Civil War battle sites or a book about ancient Egypt.
Now the self-proclaimed history nerd gets to share her love of it with everyone who walks into Omaha’s Durham Museum.
As the director of curatorial and education services she has a hand in all of the museum’s exhibits, such as the one about the 1970s that is now on display.
Meyer loves walking the museum and watching adults and kids leaning in to get a close look at an artifact in an exhibit.
“I want to bring as much of the real stuff as possible,” she said.
One of her favorite examples was the museum’s Abraham Lincoln exhibit in 2011 that included the contents of his pants pockets on the night he was assassinated.
Items included his wallet, his glasses and a couple of newspaper editorials offering him praise — something Lincoln wasn’t getting a lot of from the press at the time.
Meyer said she loves sharing real items like that with museum visitors because it brings them close to the person or the topic of the exhibit.
One of Meyer’s roles is to review traveling exhibits available to the museum and present options to Durham administrators.
Meyer said the museum chooses exhibits partly based on what season of the year they will appear.
For the spring and fall, the museum schedules exhibits that will appeal to teachers and schools planning trips. Teachers are looking for exhibits that are fun but also can be easily tied to class lessons.
For summer, the Durham looks for exhibits that educate but also offer hands-on fun and connect with pop culture.
Overall the museum looks for exhibits that will appeal to a broad range of ages, whether it’s grandparents, young adults or kids.
Meyer was born in California and moved to a suburb of Memphis, Tennessee, when she was 8.
Her parents fostered her interest in history.
When it was time for vacation her family would visit Civil War battlefields. They’d visit Colonial Williamsburg. One year they visited Washington, D.C., and its monuments and museums.
And they’d explore history in Memphis, such as the National Civil Rights Museum.
Her favorite part was listening to talks by museum guides. She felt as if she were in a classroom where only her favorite subject was taught.
She also liked visiting art museums, and she ended up majoring in art history at Rhodes College in Memphis.
She especially loved learning how religion and history influenced art, whether it was art of the Italian Renaissance or Baroque period.
But after graduating from college she had trouble finding a job with her art history degree. Then came an idea. A college adviser who knew her interests suggested museum studies, and she ended up earning a master’s degree in the field.
It turned out to be the right fit.
After completing her master’s she spent a year working at a museum in Florida, and then joined the Durham in 2008. Turning her love of history into a career, she said, has been a perfect move.
“I get to be a nerd for a living,” she said.
Hometown: Collierville, Tennessee
Position: Durham Museum’s director of curatorial and education services
Education: bachelor’s degree, art history, Rhodes College, Memphis; master’s degree, museum studies, Baylor University, Waco, Texas; working on master’s degree in history at the University of Nebraska at Omaha
Family: husband, Josh; 8-month-old son, Owen
Hobbies: counted cross-stitch, logic puzzles and watching local hockey teams